Jazz guitarist extraordinaire Lee Ritenour has gathered a few of his friends--some of the finest jazz musicians around--for an intimate concert at the famous Cocoanut Grove. Among those joining Ritenour on stage are Bob James, Tuck and Patti, Phil Perry, Harvey Mason, Ernie Watts and Joao Bosco, with both parts of these concerts on one DVD. Set list: Night Rhythms, Harlequin, Malibu, Up-Town, Preta Porte De Tafeta, Odile Odila, Latin Lovers, Etude, Cause We Ended as Lovers, Asa, 24th Street Blues, Stolen Moments, Love is the Key, Better Than Anything, Everything's Gonna Be Alright, Restoration, Westchester Lady, Bahia Funk. 118 minutes.
Filmed in Los Angeles in 1990, the complete Live at the Cocoanut Grove will do nothing to alter indifference from jazz purists toward fusion guitarist Lee Ritenour. But hardcore Rit fans and other viewers without a jazz-pop ax to grind will find this concert a particularly stimulating, wonderfully textured musical event built around the star and a parade of international talent.
Highlights abound, including a few streamlined numbers featuring Ritenour and his core band, the best of which include the former's solo work on his composition "Up-Town" and bassist Brian Bomberg's complex contributions to "24th Street Blues." The guitar-and-vocals duo Tuck & Patti provide a stylistic spine to the second set of the night, joining the band for three tunes, including a rousing finish on "Everything's Gonna Be Alright." Brazilian composer, guitarist, and singer Joao Bosco is another triple threat, his early appearance for a dreamy, solo take on the bossa nova "Pret-a-Porter de Tafeta" being a real jewel here, and nicely followed by collaborations with Rit and band on "Odile, Odila" and "Latin Lover." Vocalist Phil Perry proves ubiquitous throughout the first half of the show, bringing loads of personality to an excellent cover of "Harlequin" and "Asa," the latter also goosed by strong guitar work from guest Steve Lukather.
Bob James helps close the shop by coming 'round for late-evening performances of his "Restoration" and "Westchester Lady." From top to bottom, this is a pleasant, pleasurable entry in the Ritenour canon, though the uninitiated will find plenty to enjoy, too.